Learning from History of Injustice toward Native Americans

Updated: Aug 9, 2021


Why are painful, historical tragedies worth recounting? The reasons are both emotional and intellectual, like the remembering of the Holocaust. They drive us to probe racism and wetiko more deeply, seeking understanding that will enable us to better mitigate their impacts on contemporary politics and society. In so doing, we honor past victims and hopefully prevent or mitigate future victimizations.


Wetiko and racist rationalizations are still used to shield exploitation and distort reality. Alluding to White Supremacist traditions of the naming of well-functioning Native American cultures as savages in the wilderness, Pres. Trump told the US Naval Academy class of 2018 that our settler ancestors “tamed a continent,” we will not apologize for America.”[i]


Former Pres. Andrew Jackson continues to be in the news. Known as a champion of democracy; it was for him that the phrase “Jacksonian democracy” was coined. His vision of democracy, however, was defined by strong ingroup/outgroup boundaries. Analogous to the Puritans who advocated strong community bonding and mutual support for others with like beliefs, Andrew Jackson championed democracy for Whites. Regarding Native Americans he not only authorized the massacres of Native Americans prior to his presidency, he was also the commander-in-chief who ordered Native Americans deported from their homeland on the notorious Trail of tears in 1830. As I write, in the summer of 2020, Black Lives Matter protesters in the streets of Washington DC tried to pull down Jackson’s statue near the White House because of his proslavery practices. Pres. Trump who has a replica of the Andrew Jackson statue on his desk and a photo behind his desk has utilized federal forces to defend Andrew Jackson’s Memorial. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury made a decision to replace Jackson’s image on the $20 bill with a photo of Harriet Tubman, A Black Hero famous for helping slaves escape and was an underground operative helping the Union win the Civil War. Trump’s administration has blocked the implementation of this change. Looking at Andrew Jackson from an historical perspective, he is manifested as a champion of White Supremacy rather than as a champion of democracy.



Learning from the History of Injustice toward Native Americans


Why are painful, historical tragedies worth recounting? The reasons are both emotional and intellectual, like the remembering of the Holocaust. They drive us to probe racism and wetiko more deeply, seeking understanding that will enable us to better mitigate their impacts on contemporary politics and society. In so doing, we honor past victims and hopefully prevent or mitigate future victimizations.


Wetiko and racist rationalizations are still used to shield exploitation and distort reality. Alluding to White Supremacist traditions of the naming of well-functioning Native American cultures as savages in the wilderness, Pres. Trump told the US Naval Academy class of 2018 that our settler ancestors “tamed a continent,” we will not apologize for America.”[i]


Former Pres. Andrew Jackson continues to be in the news. Known as a champion of democracy; it was for him that the phrase “Jacksonian democracy” was coined. His vision of democracy, however, was defined by strong ingroup/outgroup boundaries. Analogous to the Puritans who advocated strong community bonding and mutual support for others with like beliefs, Andrew Jackson championed democracy for Whites. Regarding Native Americans he not only authorized the massacres of Native Americans prior to his presidency, he was also the commander-in-chief who ordered Native Americans deported from their homeland on the notorious Trail of tears in 1830. As I write, in the summer of 2020, Black Lives Matter protesters in the streets of Washington DC tried to pull down Jackson’s statue near the White House because of his proslavery practices. Pres. Trump who has a replica of the Andrew Jackson statue on his desk and a photo behind his desk has utilized federal forces to defend Andrew Jackson’s Memorial. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury made a decision to replace Jackson’s image on the $20 bill with a photo of Harriet Tubman, A Black Hero famous for helping slaves escape and was an underground operative helping the Union win the Civil War. Trump’s administration has blocked the implementation of this change. Looking at Andrew Jackson from an historical perspective, he is manifested as a champion of White Supremacy rather than as a champion of democracy.


Since this post was originally drafted, presidential behavior has pivoted 180°. I am grateful that in Pres. Biden we have a politics of inclusion. [i] https://www.newsweek.com/donald-trump-tame-continent-america-945121


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